Gala mast raises fears over health

SCOTTISH Borders Council will be asked how much it makes from telecommunications masts situated in the region, writes Kenny Paterson.

Galashiels councillor John Mitchell has submitted the question for SBC’s meeting on March 29, after a campaign was launched against a 35ft mast in the town which has already been granted approval.

A total of 100 signatures have been gathered by residents in the Sanderson Court area where the station for multi-national communications firm Orange is to be installed. The households’ opposition centres on radiation fears as well as concerns that their properties will be devalued as a result of the mast’s presence.

Objector Allan Strang told Galashiels Community Council’s March meeting: “A lot of the people who signed the petition have children who go to Glendinning Primary School. In 50 years time a child from that school will have to live with the affects of this [mast].”

He added: “The health risk is the potential biggest problem, but the value of our properties could be devalued by £5,000.”

SBC’s planning committee in January decided to support the bid by Orange, launched to provide its Galashiels customers with coverage after its previous site at Botany Mill in Roxburgh Street was decommissioned. However, members were unable to consider health concerns as they were not in the local authorities’ remit under Scottish planning policy.

Councillor Mitchell told Galashiels CC: “I am very worried about the health risks with these masts, but I was told when I wanted to raise it that it was not a valid planning objection.” He added this week: “Myself and Christine Grahame MSP are pursuing this from several angles to find answers, although we won’t get the decision reversed or the legislation changed.”

MP Michael Moore has taken up the case by writing to Orange’s chief executive for reassurances, while Mr Strang has contacted the Scottish Government’s minister for local government and planning, Derek Mackay MSP.

A spokeswoman representing Orange said: “No community is completely untouched by the impact of the infrastructure needed to deliver the range of public services that modern society depends upon, whether it is roads, railways, telecommunications, radio/TV or electricity. Mobile networks are no exception to this.

“With regards to concerns about the health implications relating to masts, we would seek to reassure members of the public that scientific reviews carried out around the world have not found adverse health effects caused by mobile phone base stations operating within the international health and safety guidelines.”